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Smoking snuffed out for students at high school

Need a smoke break? Beginning the 2012-2013 school year, 18-year-old students at Halifax County High School will no longer be able to smoke during their lunch breaks like they have for so many years before.

No smoking for students on the “smoke deck” is one of several proposed changes Supervisor of Secondary Instruction Frosty Owens introduced for approval to the Code of Student Conduct Monday during the regularly scheduled school board meeting.

Now inserted in the conduct code is “students shall not smoke on school buses (including activity buses), in the school building, satellite locations, school-related activities, or in the parking area at any time.”

“The implication there obviously is that we want all Halifax County Public School property to be smoke free,” said Owens.

However, he said, faculty still will retain smoking privileges on school property.

Another change includes students being suspended for directing vulgar language at a teacher or administrator.

Now inserted in the conduct code is “disrespectful or rude behavior to a teacher or an administration including vulgar language directed to a teacher or an administrator may result in a suspension for 1-10 days or a recommendation for a long-term suspension.”

 Students no longer will be allowed to use cell phones or PDAs to record themselves or any other persons while on school property, and they won’t be able to order a pizza while at school. 

Newly inserted into the conduct code is the prohibition of deliveries of nonessential items to students. All food deliveries including pizza, fast food, subs, etc. to the school must have prior written approval from the principal. 

According to Owens, if a parent or guardian delivers a non-household lunch (fast food or restaurant) to the school, he/she must remain at school and eat with the student.

Board members ED-1 trustee Phyllis Smith and ED-8 trustee Walter Potts expressed their concerns about cell phone usage within the schools.

“When the students are taking their SOLs, do we confiscate the students’ cell phones?” asked Smith.

Sharing her experience at a previous school system where cell phones became a problem to the point the school system had to discharge tests and redistribute after confiscating all cell phones.

Owens assured board members that during SOL testing, administrators at both Halifax County Middle and High Schools do all they can to make sure cell phones are turned off and turned in until after testing. 

However, it’s other times during the instructional year that cell phones remain a distraction for students.

“What policy do we have in place for faculty using cell phones during the day?” asked Potts, who pointed out an issue brought to his attention about faculty using cell phones during the change of classes.

“Staff are told by their administrators not to use them (cell phones) during instructional hours…that’s just common professionalism,” said Owens.

“It became a serious issue…I think it’s something we should take a serious look at with all staff, not just teachers, that’s everybody,” Potts concluded.

Board members unanimously approved the proposed changes to the code of conduct.